The 2023 NBA Draft is only two weeks away and anticipation about who the Washington Wizards are going to select with their no. 8 pick is building with every passing day. As all signs point to a rebuild in Washington, the Wizards need to try to find their next franchise player to build on. The priority needs to be drafting the best player available rather than focusing on positional fit. There is a decent chance that the best player available will be Taylor Hendricks of the University of Central Florida.
Hendricks has all the makings of a potential two-way star. He is a 6’9 forward with a 7’1 wingspan with impressive positional versatility. Even though his ideal position is power forward for now, he could easily slide down, or even play small-ball center eventually.
Taylor Hendricks has the building blocks of an elite defender
Hendricks projects to be very good on the defensive end, both as a switch defender guarding in the perimeter and also as a rim protector. He has active hands and good instincts as a help defender, as evidenced by his averages of 0.9 steals and 1.7 blocks per game as a freshman. His impressive mobility for his size and length give him a lofty defensive upside.
What makes Hendricks a special prospect is his ability to provide the same level of versatility on the offensive end as well. He is close to a complete scorer, with his ability to face up and attack, finish around the rim, and shoot from everywhere on the court. He shot 39.4 percent from three on 4.6 attempts, and considering his above-average free-throw shooting, good form, and soft touch, he is likely going to be a dangerous shooter for his position in the NBA.
Furthermore, his bouncy athleticism and high motor make him a good pick-and-roll option and a lob threat. If his effortless scoring from inside and outside the arc translates to the NBA, it’s easy to see him be a 20-points-a-game scorer for a long time. And there is no reason it should not translate.
Hendricks needs to work on his passing and ball handling
The main obstacle in front of Hendricks’ way to stardom is his lack of shot creation. His passing and ball handling needs some work to be able to create consistently for himself and his teammates. He was mostly a dependent offensive player in college, and he could still be a very valuable player in the NBA as a very efficient play-finisher type. However, if he adds to his game by tightening his handle and improving his passing, he could be a scary offensive weapon.
Hendricks is a high-ceiling, high-floor player. It is hard to see how a player possessing this much skill, size, and versatility could struggle badly in the NBA. He is a modern player that could fit seamlessly into any team.
One of these teams could be the Washington Wizards, who desperately need an injection of youth, athleticism, versatility, and upside. And selecting Taylor Hendricks with the no.8 pick could provide all of that.